"Cat People" Gets the Criterion Treatment

I don't really collect DVDs anymore as I began to notice that the ones I bought had a tendency to stay in their wrapping months, if not years after I purchased them.  My habit of watching and rematching my favorite films has pretty much become a thing of the past with so many other things to watch and enjoy in this new "Golden Age" of television.  But there are some things I still can't wait to get my hands on, even if I will only watch them once.  Call it sentiment, call it the illusion of closeness.  I will happily grab at the illusion of closeness with this film.  It's a 1942 film by the name of Cat People.  You may not have seen the original, but you are likely at least familiar with the title, or the remake from the eighties that takes the originals subtext and makes it "text".

On September 20th, Cat People gets the Criterion treatment.  Criterion does truly beautiful work restoring oftentimes forgotten or little known masterpieces, and I eagerly await the chance to see this film in its crisp restored form, and to drown myself in all the extras Criterion provides.  The film itself is a subtle, shadowy noir horror piece.  A female werewolf movie, with the more feminine but equally deadly panther stepping in for the brutish wolf.  It says so much about the things that we as people fear about ourselves, our histories, about fear of our own sexual desires, desires that we have been told are sinful.  And it is intensely artful, subtle visual cues throughout to tell its story.  In short, I absolutely adore every aspect.

The Criterion set includes:

  • New 2K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
  • Audio commentary from 2005 featuring film historian Gregory Mank, with excerpts from an audio interview with actor Simone Simon
  • Val Lewton: The Man in the Shadows, a 2008 feature-length documentary that explores the life and career of the legendary Hollywood producer
  • Interview with director Jacques Tourneur from 1979
  • New interview with cinematographer John Bailey about the look of the film
  • Trailer
  • PLUS: An essay by critic Geoffrey O’Brien

I've heard the audio commentary, as it is available on the current DVD, and it's a great complement to the film as it details how intricately it was crafted to work on the viewer's mind, right down to the visual effects of the shadows from the window which fall on the heroines face and give the impression of her being caged.

In truth, if you haven't seen it yet and you need the luxury of immediate gratification, see it in any form.  If you are a fan, then this new disc is a must own.